ATEs are an essential component in the semiconductor manufacturing process because it verifies the functionality of the fabricated devices and also identifies faults. The ATE and FAS markets are strongly correlated with the telecommunications, automotive and medical devices industries, whose fundamental components are semiconductors ICs. An IC is akin to the brains of the component that can receive, analyze and transmit data to and from other electronic components. If a product analyses digital data, which is highly probable nowadays, it is likely to have some form of a semiconductor IC.
Semiconductor devices are at the forefront of technology innovation and have been a fundamental driver for economic growth. Consumer electronics is a massive market that strongly relies on semiconductor ICs. As new and innovative applications materialize, semiconductors need to evolve synchronously. The digitization of our world has spearheaded the requirements for advancements in the semiconductor value chain.
In today’s digital age, computing platforms have become a necessity that has found widespread applications across end user industries. Semiconductor ICs may be the core of a smartphone, but it is also a crucial component in the machines that fabricate the aforementioned ICs. As such, the market for ICs with embedded intelligence has expanded tremendously across end user industries. Globalization and the need to be interconnected have led to positive growth in data traffic and device utilization .
Central to the increasing flow of data is the pervasiveness of smart phones as well as other mobile devices and their ever rising uptake since their introduction about a decade ago. Given that smart phones typically have at least five sensor modules, the pervasiveness of electronic sensors is compounded by worldwide smart phone unit shipment, which is estimated at 1.5 billion units in 2017 and is expected to reach 1.8 billion units in 2021. This implies a rising demand for ATEs to verify their functionality.
China and the U.S. are key consumer markets for the telecommunications, automotive and medical devices industries and are therefore driving the demand for semiconductor ICs. Over the past decade, China has increased its influence on the global semiconductor market. According to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (“WSTS”), China is the largest semiconductor market in the world, accounting for 31.8% (USD107.6 billion) of the global market in 2016.
China witnessed the highest growth in annual semiconductor sales from 2015 to 2016, with a year-on-year growth rate of 9.2%.In terms of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, China market increased by 32.0% from 2015 to 2016, overtaking Japan and North America to become the third largest globally in 2016.3 The growth of the PRC’s telecommunications, automotive and medical devices sectors as well as a flourishing consumer electronics segment are driving China’s semiconductor industry.